MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The halls of the Bower Activity Center at Youth Villages are now silent, but in just a few weeks they will be filled with children and laughter.
“I brought a small group of kids in here last weekend,” Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler said. “It’s not open yet and I probably wasn’t supposed to, but their eyes just lit up.”
Youth Villages provides residential and mental health services for young people with emotional and behavioral problems.
Lawler said the 13,800 square foot building on the Bartlett campus will offer enhanced therapeutic activities where children can make music, create artwork, exercise, and learn culinary skills.
“The building actually started by building a culinary kitchen,” Lawler explained. “We’ve had a culinary program for our young people for about eleven or 12 years now and we needed a larger space to prepare meals.”
Aside from culinary arts, drumming is one of the finest programs at Youth Villages.
The Bower Center will provide a bigger space for youth to express themselves through music.
“There’s a lot of research that shows it not only helps calm and relax young people, but it also helps with their math skills,” Lawler said. “Also, it helps young people feel a part of a group, working together to accomplish something together.”
Health and hygiene services will also be available with a built-in hair salon, dental treatment room, and optometry exam room.
“Some of these young people haven’t really had the advantage of going to a dentist regularly or really going to an optometrist or having their hair done on a regular basis,” Lawler said. “So, it really makes them feel good about themselves. Plus, they’re healthier too.”
Lawler said he hopes the center helps to show the children just how much they are loved and valued.
“Whether it’s during a pandemic or it’s during a family emotional crisis, this is always going to be seen as a safe place for young people,” Lawler said.
The Bower Activity Center also has several outdoor features including and basketball court and pavilion.
The building is set to open in the next few weeks.